Monday, 16 May 2016

Bastille Day

As far as action movies go I tend to steer clear, not because I'm a snob who's above people beating each other up, but because I think that all the good action movies have already been made and the majority of ones coming out these days can't keep up with the movies of my youth. So when I have to go review these movies, I don't go with high expectations. Obviously I can be surprised, just like how I was with Bastille Day.

On the eve of the important French national holiday, American pickpocket Michael Mason (Richard Madden) steals a bag belonging to French bomb mule Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon), but after finding nothing of interest, he throws it in the trash. Soon after, the terrorists set off the bomb and Michael becomes the main suspect in a manhunt by the French police. But CIA agent Briar (Idris Elba) has also been assigned to bring Michael in to find what he knows. As soon as Michael finds out what he has been accused of, he sets out to clear his name.

On closer inspection, Bastille Day is a pretty current portrayal of what is going on in Europe, from the rapid rise of far right political groups clashing with with left wing protest groups, as well as the influx of asylum seekers. Of course, this isn't the main focus of the movie and only plays out in the background, along with the apparent reliance on social media everyone apart from the main characters seem to have. The plot is pretty fun and moves along at a great pace. I saw the plot of the bad guys coming a mile away, but of course anyone who has seen the original Die Hard will as well. In terms of the action, there were two memorable set pieces for me. Early on Richard Madden and Idris Elba engage in a thrilling rooftop chase where the stakes are pretty high, especially if you're afraid of heights like I am. The other one come in the back of a van, where the fight is choreographed around the movements of it.

Despite being a Hollywood movie, the film has cast no American actors which was a choice that I found very noticeable. Richard Madden (Robb Stark from Game of Thrones) was at times slightly annoying as the helpless Michael. I thought that his character would at least be a bit more assertive with the decisions he makes. Idris Elba stands out as someone not to mess with. If anything this is his audition for James Bond, much in the same way Layer Cake was for Daniel Craig. He has many more action scenes than I've seen him do before. Charlotte Le Bon doesn't really have much of a screen presence and when she is on the screen she just looks worried or scared. Kelly Reilly is absolutely wasted in this movie, relegated to a role where she just has to explain what is going on to Idris Elba. José Garcia is a pretty menacing bad guy and I would have liked to see him have a bigger part.

Bastille Day is on the whole a better than average action movie and I did have a lot of fun watching it. It isn't something worth running out to see right this instant, but it should be high on your list.

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